Tyrone star Cathal McShane poised to agree switch to Aussie Rules outfit Brisbane Lions
TYRONE look set to suffer a massive blow ahead of the start of their 2020 campaign, with key player Cathal McShane believed to be on the brink of signing a two-year deal with Aussie Rules side Brisbane Lions.
The 24-year-old was one of the standout players in last year’s Championship, finishing the season as top scorer and earning an Allstar award at full-forward.
The Owen Roe’s clubman poured cold water on speculation about a switch Down Under last week. However, it is understood that he is set to fly to Australia in the coming days to view facilities and tie up the deal that would see him link up with former Dublin underage star James Madden, who moved to Brisbane last year.
It would see McShane become the second player from the Tyrone minor side of 2013, which reached the All-Ireland final, to go to Aussie Rules after Conor McKenna’s 2014 move to Essendon.
Since that All-Ireland minor final appearance seven years ago, his star has been steadily on the rise. He played at midfield on the Tyrone U21 side that won the All-Ireland title in 2015, beating Tipperary in the final, and was also to the fore the following year when the Red Hands reached the Ulster U21 final again - only to lose out to Monaghan.
His displays caught the eye of Red Hands senior boss Mickey Harte and McShane went on to win his first Ulster SFC medal later that summer, before adding another 12 months later.
He also played a major role as St Mary’s College, Belfast swept to their second-ever Sigerson Cup win in 2017.
The following year he kicked a brilliant last-gasp equaliser in Navan to force extra-time against Meath in the Qualifiers as Tyrone got out of jail before going all the way to the All-Ireland final, where they came up short against the all-conquering Dublin side.
But it was last season when he really made his presence felt on the senior inter-county stage, proving a revelation at full-forward as Tyrone advanced to the All-Ireland semi-final.
They lost out to Kerry but McShane was outstanding, kicking seven points.
That came on the back of sparkling displays against Derry (0-7) in the Ulster Championship, Longford (2-2) and Kildare (0-5) in the Qualifiers as well as Roscommon (0-8) and Cork (1-5) in Super 8 games.
Should McShane move to Australia, it would be another major setback for Tyrone, with captain Mattie Donnelly already set to miss a chunk of the 2020 season through injury while Clonoe forward Connor McAliskey has opted to take a break from inter-county football.
The Red Hands begin their Dr McKenna Cup campaign against Cavan in Omagh on Sunday.